September 25, 2021

#BookReview: The Black Witch (The Black Witch Chronicles #1) by @laurieannforest






Synopsis: A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.

Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of rebels…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to fear.
 



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Rating: 
My Review: 
  I do not say this very often about books, especially when those books just clear 600 pages. But this book is out of this world! If you haven't picked this one up yet you need to. Then you need to take out like a full week of reading time to take your time reading it. (wow that was a tongue twister). 

First off I want everyone to understand that I have had heard all of the bad things said about this book. But after reading it I have to wonder if those people have read the book at all. Because this book is about so many things at least in my eyes. First off it's about a girl named Elloren that has lived a sheltered life away from the prying eyes of those in power only to be thrust into a world at University where she is confronted by everything she is supposed to hate. She can not go against her religion and her values right off the bat. That just doesn't make sense in a story such as this. This is a story that is trying to show you how not accepting people is bad! That we need to accept others and with everything going on right now in the world with immigration etc. I would think that this would be a wonderful book to read. For that main fact. 

Ok so into the real review. This book was beyond amazing. It had a slight Harry Potter feel to it that I loved with the wandfasting (basically think of the unbreakable vow.) this is something that our MC's Uncle didn't want for her. He wanted Elloren to wait two years and sending her to University was the best thing for her. Here she is made to live with two beings called Icarals which in their society are little more than winged demons. She also has to go to school with werewolves called Lupine twins. Which are also considered evil. Elloren realizes after a good portion of the book that all is not as it seems and even a lot of her friends feel the same way. I really loved the fact that the author started out with Elloren being pretty much like everyone. She was removed from the main society even learning how to create violins with her uncle which is a trade as a woman she wasn't supposed to be doing.

I also loved her determination. Even before she became friends with some of the creatures/beings that were seen as evil by everyone else. She stood fast to the ideals and promises that she gave to her Uncle. To not wandfast until school was over no matter her situation. She took to working in the kitchens with other, not of her kind and never complained. And once she realized what was really going on she didn't hesitate to help in any way she could. It really stands true that Elloren was one strong character even if she didn't have any magic per say or knew how to fight. 

The other side characters also didn't disappoint I really loved everyone from the Icarals to the dragon to the Lupines and more! Everyone pulled their weight in the book and it was almost like it was in multi-POV even though it wasn't. It was one book that once you got into it with the characters you didn't want to put it down at all. 

The next thing I want to cover for this review is the hatred that is in its pages. So much racism goes on in this story but it fits the dark theme of the story well. I loved every bit of Elloren figuring out that all is not as it should be as she went out to discover what was really going on. Even so much as going to a teacher that she both disliked and was scared of, knowing he would tell her the truth. As they say History is written by the victors. So if we take away all of the books about say the Holocust or other Interment camps and only use those stories that are cheery and happy what does that leave us with. Yes, the cruelty in this book might be dark, sad, and sometime over the top but that is the nature of our world. There is so much nonacceptance in our world today. We have school shootings and mail bombs going off and little kids who are 3 and 5 defending themselves via being deported. (that was on the new btw) So although this is a much darker theme than many might be used to it is one that we should not turn a blind eye to. I hope that those who choose to read this wonderful story learns acceptance and that it opens their eyes to the world around them. For me I found this book very realistic to our lives today. Although we're all the same species unlike Elloren and her friends. 

All in all the world building (was out of the freaking world man!!!), characters (everyone had a voice!), and the story (MIND BLOWING) all came together to bring one of the most amazing titles out there today! I am so happy to have had Laurie on The Books Addict this past month and I really hope that she comes back for her next title. She offically has a new stalker in me that is for sure. Auto buy is on for this author and I can't wait for the next one! 

For those of you out there that haven't read this one yet. I tell you read it for yourself then make a choice. Don't let negative reviews steer you away. You might miss out on some amazing titles. I know I have in the past. 


Go Into This One Knowing: READ THIS ASAP!!!
 









From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up—It is one thing to be the granddaughter of Carnissa Gardner, the legendary Black Witch, but it's another to be the spitting image of her. Elloren Gardner discovers this from the moment she is uprooted from her uncle's secluded house and enrolled at Verpax University, which is rumored to be "racially integrated," to Elloren's great shock (Elloren shares her aunt's opinion that the integration is "misguided"). While outwardly resembling a bildungsroman, albeit a fantasy one, this novel features a protagonist who remains naive for far too long and, unfortunately, is painfully slow to confront the racist attitudes that she has inherited and that are essential to Gardnerian dominance. By the book's end, readers will wonder if she has learned anything at all. Teens will have to get through hundreds of pages of stereotypical characterizations of marginalized groups (non-Gardnerians are hateful and ultraviolent, their blood is "polluted," they mate like animals, the non-Gardnerian women are trying to steal Gardnerian men, etc.) before Elloren begins to recognize that maybe Gardnerians are the bad guys in her realm. Although unlearning prejudices is a timely theme in YA, Forest handles this issue clumsily. In a particularly rough, tone-deaf scene, mean girl Fallon berates Effrey, a purple-skinned enslaved Urisk girl. Elloren eventually comes to the rescue, and Sparrow, another enslaved girl, approves of her actions with a smile—just one of the many white savior—like moments throughout. The world-building also leaves a lot to be desired: the Gardnerian creation story is an almost verbatim retelling of Genesis, and there are sporadic, vague mentions of martial arts and elemental spirits in this otherwise "Harry Potter" meets Tolkien universe. VERDICT Poor writing and character development contribute to an overall uneven handling of race and racism in a fantasy setting.—Della Farrell, School Library Journal

Review

ABA Indiebound – Summer 2017 Kids' Indie Next List Pick

"This briskly paced, tightly plotted novel enacts the transformative power of education, creating engaging characters set in a rich alternative universe with a complicated history that can help us better understand our own. A massive page-turner that leaves readers longing for more." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Forest uses a richly imagined magical world to offer an uncompromising condemnation of prejudice and injustice."
-Booklist, starred review

"Exquisite character work, an elaborate mythology, and a spectacularly rendered universe make this a noteworthy debut, which argues passionately against fascism and xenophobia.
-Publishers Weekly, starred review

"I absolutely loved The Black Witch and will have a very hard time waiting for the second book! Maximum suspense, unusual magic--a whole new, thrilling approach to fantasy!" -Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"The Black Witch is a refreshing, powerful young adult fantasy. This strong debut offers an uncompromising glimpse of world-altering politics amplified by a magical setting in which prejudice and discrimination cut both ways." -Robin Hobb, New York Times bestselling author

"We fell under the spell of this rich, diverse, Potter-worthy university world!
Characters that come alive off the page, tangled relationships, swoonworthy romance!
Love the fresh way this also tackles prejudice. Prepare to fangirl!"
-Justine magazine

"A powerful start to a new series, and a very impressive first novel." -Locus

"This very engaging YA series deals with difficult topics such as prejudice, hate, intolerance, and stereotypes of other cultures and races...And, yes, some characters have supernatural powers and there is also romance. I would love to see this book as a movie." - American Booksellers Association

About the Author

Laurie Forest lives deep in the backwoods of Vermont, where she sits in front of a wood stove drinking strong tea and dreaming up tales full of dryads, dragons and wands. She is the author of The Black Witch Chronicles, including The Black Witch, The Iron Flower, The Shadow Wand and the prequel e-novellas Wandfasted and Light Mage, which are also available in print as The Rebel Mages anthology. Enter her realm online at www.laurieannforest.com.









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